African Studies Center

University of Pennsylvania


The University of Pennsylvania and the US Department of Education

Zulu Immersion Program for Intensive Intermediate–Advanced Zulu
in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

GPA Students in Classroom


The program is comprised of six components, namely:

  1. Coursework (classroom instruction),
  2. Lecture Seminars
  3. Home stays
  4. Tours to Cultural/Historical Sites
  5. Hands-on Workshops
  6. Outreach Program.

I   Coursework

The Zulu Immersion Programcoursework is comprised of three sections: Literature, Communicative Language Use, and Research/Writing.

Literature (Part I)explores in depth collections of short stories, folktales, and biographies depicting the history and the culture of the Zulu people within the broader historical context of South Africa. Pedagogical emphasis is placed on language use to enable students to develop their capacity for narrative analysis and their Zulu writing skills.

The communicative/conversational language use (Part II) of the Zulu course is tied to the Literature Section (Part I) as well as the rest of the Zulu Immersion Program curriculum components, namely guest seminars, educational tours of cultural/historical sites, outreach, and home stays. The course is designed around the 5Cs of the U. S. National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, namely, Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities to enable students in their process of becoming lifelong learners to develop insight into the nature of the language and the culture of the Zulu people as well as the ability to use the Zulu language in appropriate contexts. The contents of this section are mainly drawn from authentic materials including stories, newspaper articles, poems, ads, and songs. Texts from various textbooks designed for second language learners are also used. At the completion of this course students can discuss a variety of contemporary issues (cultural and religious practices, family life/relationships, gender roles in the Zulu culture, political events, education, Zulu history etc.).

GPA Students

Research (Part III) entails producing a research paper in Zulu on topics of students’ own choosing. It’s an opportunity for students to integrate the linguistic and historical, and cultural information gathered during the program to come up with an intellectual piece of work written in the target language.

The program is approved by U.S. Dept. of Education for FLAS awardees, and it's designed to provide intensive instruction in the Zulu language and culture. During the project students will have time to make contacts with South African academics and administrators to discuss research affiliation and similar matters related to their future academic/research plans. But students will not have time to pursue personal projects related to their own educational programs.

II   Lecture Seminars

Lecture seminars are held twice a week, every Tuesdays and Thursdays by faculty of the University of Zululand as well as community professionals on a wide range of topics, including Zulu history, aspects of the Zulu culture (religion, naming, story-telling, music, etc.), gender in the Zulu culture, education in South Africa, and health and healing.

III   Home Stays (urban and semi-rural settings)

The students will participate in two homestays: Urban home stay at eMpangeni and Durban.

IV   Tours of Historical/Cultural Sites

Phansi Museum (Zulu clothing museum), Ecabazini (Zulu homestead/life), KwaMuhle (historical museum in Durban), KwaShembe Church (Zulu church practicing Zulu traditions), King Shaka museum, King Cetshwayo museum (Ulundi), Battle of ISandlwana, KwaDlinza Forest (Zulu traditional medicine), and Zulu Royal Family visit at KwaNongoma.

GPA Program

V   Hands-on Workshops

The hands-on workshop is designed to teach students how to make Zulu cultural products such as beadwork and popular Zulu dishes, and learning how to perform Zulu cultural practices such as Zulu dance, and music.

VI   Outreach Program

The outreach program engages students in the community. Outreach activities include teaching at local schools, learning Zulu games from students, and teaching American games to local students. It is designed to reinforce what is learned throughout the program and the use of the language with native speakers in informal settings.

For more information about African Languages at Penn please email the Director of African Language Program,
Dr. Audrey N Mbeje, or call: (215) 898-4299

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